Friday, November 28, 2014

There is so much to be thankful for

  Thanksgiving has come and gone. During the day I found myself reflecting on what I am thankful for. Of course I am thankful for my family, a warm home, a job, and quilting. But there are also a lot of other people and things to be thankful for.
   When I moved to Massachusetts in 1986 I left my family behind in Idaho. I have never spent another Thanksgiving with them and it is hard. But I was welcomed to join the Campbell family back when Mitch and I were dating. All these years later, Emma has been born, Mitch is married to Linda, and I am still a part of that family for holidays and birthdays and it helps me miss my "real" family less. Thank you, Campbells.
     For 8 years I was a nanny for a wonderful family, the Rokoffs. They welcomed me as a part of their family and I still consider them family. I have great memories of my time with them. Thank you, Rokoffs.
    I have been working at the pharmacy for 13 years with a great group of people (most of the time). There is Cheryl who would do anything for anyone, including picking up at the airport, and taking me whale watching for my first time. Thank you, Cheryl.
    There is also Rose, who gave me a wonderful gift this weekend. She is a former quilter (I didn't know those existed, but apparently they do). She went on a cleaning binge and gave me 2 boxes of fabrics. I am enjoying slowly sorting and adding to my project boxes. New fabric just makes me happy! Thanks, Rose.
   Then there's Amanda, who drove me to my surgery, waited for hours at the hospital, and was my "person".  (She's also letting me "borrow" her daughter to take Emma's place Christmas tree shopping next week.)Thanks, Amanda.
    Then there are my online "friends". Keeping in touch with family and old friends via Facebook has been such a blessing. I miss everyone but I feel a bit like I am still a part of their lives. I love seeing the pictures of new baby great nieces and nephews and cousins. I love seeing my high school classmates reconnecting and when I got to join them it was so much fun. I enjoy seeing pictures of Coeur d'Alene--old and new. I love sending birthday wishes and reaching out with a message to old friends. And when I am in Cd'A I am already caught up on what people are doing. Thanks, Facebook.
     Recently I met a new bunch of online "friends" via the Hay Day game. I am in a great "neighborhood" with wonderful people who chat and share and help each other out in the game. We give encouragement if someone is having a bad day and instant help if needed. Thanks, Lindy, Belle, Kalimae, PowPow, Wolf, Crap, Paris, and the rest.
    Of course I am also thankful for quilting. I have always done handwork, knitting, crochet, embroidery, macrame, sewing. I love putting colors together and creating something from nothing. I love looking around and seeing beautiful things that I've made. (I only hope Emma appreciates them when I am gone! )Thank you to all the quilters who have taught and inspired me.
     I also love visiting quilt shops. There is always someone wonderful to chat with and share ideas and each shop has its own personality and ideas to inspire. Sometimes I go in for no particular reason, just for a chat. Thanks, quilt shops.
    I am also thankful for technology and the enjoyment I get from my tech toys. I love my I Pod full of the music I love. I listen when I am going to sleep, while I am sewing, cooking or driving long trips. I would be very sad coming back from Emma's college without my playlist of "songs to sing in the car". I love my Kindle Fire, full of books and the easy access to Facebook and the internet. Of course I love my phone, mostly because of Hay Day, and the feeling of security it gives me. My latest love is a renewed love of my laptop which I use mostly for watching movies and TV shows. Thanks, PrimeWire and Coke and Popcorn.
     And of course I would be a bad mother if I did not mention how thankful I am for my beautiful, smart, creative and unique daughter. Without her I would be incomplete. Thank you, Emma, for being my Pumpkin.
   I call myself the Lone Quilter, but I am not really alone. I have a lot of wonderful people and things to be thankful for who are all a part of me. Thanks to you all.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Flashback Sunday" --Think it will catch on?

       Since I live alone at the moment I find myself looking for ways to amuse myself so I came up with the idea of "Flashback Sunday". Now I know it doesn't have the ring of Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday would be catchier, but Sunday is my only day off so I am going with it. I decided that one Sunday a month would be a Flashback day. I dug deep into the UFO bins to find projects that had been there for years. I carried it a bit further by watching movies from the 80's and 90's and listening to old music. I even made the ultimate flashback dinner--mac and cheese. I would love to get my ziploc bag projects out of the UFO box and into the UFO Tops box! In the process of digging I found quite a bit of fabric just sitting there waiting to be used on a project. Those are the projects I went for because I want to be able to use that leftover fabric for something else!
       Anyone who has followed this blog knows there is one thing I really don't enjoy doing and that is putting on borders. Yuck. I have one top that is thousands of half-square triangles and all it needs is this pieced border and another plain border. Most of the border pieces were already cut and even started piecing. I got the pieced border on and it is going to get a plain border next Flashback Sunday.
       Another quickie project was a small quilt made from 6 southwest color palate leftover log cabin blocks. (That word "palate" looks wrong but for the life of me I can't figure out what is right)
Southwest colors 
I found those blocks the same day I hit the pile of peach fabric in the bottom of the tote, which went with it. I kept staring at those peach fabrics and they didn't really look familiar. Some of them were quite sharply creased! It occurred to me that I hadn't thought of the color peach in ages. It is a nice size pile from a long ago peach trend and I hope peach comes back some day!
Leftover sample blocks
       The other project is a real trip down memory lane for me. I used to teach beginner and intermediate quilting classes at the Fabric Place and had decided to make all my sample blocks from the same color palate-bright purples, pink, blue, and green and black with lots of florals. I pulled out the blocks and couldn't believe how much fabric was in the bag. The blocks are a few sizes so I am doing a scattered setting. I have 2  small tops done and the 3rd is on the design wall and every day I walk by and put together a bit of the units. I really want that leftover fabric in the stash!
       Speaking of the stash--for the last month or so I have touched every piece of fabric in my stash. My totes are a thing of beauty which I would gladly show off to anyone who wanted to see! I cut a 6" square piece off every fabric which will eventually be made into
Flashback pic of myself, Emma, and the charm quilt
a charm quilt. One of the first quilts I learned about when I first started quilting was the charm quilt. I have made a bed sized apple core style, and Emma's baby quilt was a hexagon. I've also done a couple wallhangings. A charm quilt is made with just one shape and no two fabrics the same. A real challenge. This time I am doing a tumbler and every day I cut a few tumblers from the pile of pieces. I keep getting the itch to start sewing some together but I don't have enough colors cut yet. It is a real flashback project.
Emma's baby quilt. She called it Tweety because Tweety
was on the border.It's a hexagon charm.
So shall we rally around the idea of Flashback Sunday? Sounds like fun to me!

Friday, November 7, 2014

When are you finished?

        I definitely have a type of ADD when it comes to doing any project. I like to do one project for a while and then switch to another one and maybe another and then go back and repeat. I really can't just do one project from beginning to end without sometime going nuts, which I realized when I have done commissions. As a result I have an unbelievable number of UFO's.  BUT the thing I love about my method is that week when things all get finished. YAY! Big payoff.
        But are they really finished? What criteria should we use to determine when a quilt is finished and ready to move on? Is it when the binding is finished? Or is there something else we should do? I think there are a couple more steps after the binding is done.
    1. Final inspection
It is important to put the quilt under bright lights and go over it carefully checking for any puckers, skipped stitches, toe-catchers, hanging threads,  loopy stitching, missed areas. 
I have mentioned the pucker problem previously and that is something that needs to be checked out as you go along. Nothing worse than getting all done and then having to tear out!
The skipped stitches problem may only be my machine but for some reason it occasionally will start sewing and then skip an inch or two then keep going. HUH? You need to really look for this because you don't want the next problem.
Toe-catchers--These are loops of thread. I don't know if this is just quilting Urban Legend or what but I was told a story when I first started out about a baby getting a toe caught in one of these loops and he ended up losing a toe because it got caught and circulation was cut off. I don't know if it is true, but it could happen! So I go over the top with my hand going every direction looking for any loops that could be dangerous.
Hanging threads--They all have to be cut off at the end. No more needs to be said about this!
Loopy stitching-- Sometimes the tension gets messed up and when I look at the back entire areas are loopy and have to be torn out. Another reason to check as you go along
Missing areas--I've had this happen a couple times but the worst was the quilt I made for Kristi and Sam that I took to Cd'A as a gift. I had to finish the binding there and as I was binding I realized there was an area that still had basting pins! CRAP! I had to go to my sister-in-law's and borrow her machine, thread, and walking foot to finish it.
       2. Label it
Every quilt should have a label. You don't want your work to go out into the world without any identification. It may be just your initials in Pigma Pen hidden on a charity quilt or a beautiful sewn on label. I've embroidered on the quilt, embroidered a label to sew on later, made the label one of the blocks, but usually I print the label on muslin from my computer. I make my own "fabric paper" by pressing the fabric very smooth, then pressing to the waxy side of freezer paper, and cutting 8 1/2" x 11". After printing, I press again to set the ink and let it set a day before sewing onto the quilt. As far as I know these labels have survived!
I feel that each label should include: Name of the Quilt, who it was made for, if it is a gift, who made it and when and where. Then any other important info like maybe the birth weight and length if for a baby, or wedding date if a wedding gift. I make a lot of I Spy quilts so the I Spy poem is part of the label. The one I did for Jackson is a bug quilt and includes a cute poem about bugs. 
        3. Clean up
After I am completely finished, I run it over with a lint brush to remove all batting fuzz, and loose threads.

After all these things are done, THEN IT IS FINISHED!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

There are a lot of fun tools out there for quilters--and they aren't in quilt shops

    I was in the sewing room the other day and looked around and saw several things I use a lot that aren't even "quilting tools". Thought I'd share a few---

2 sizes of clamps
****Clamps from the hardware store to clamp down the fabric for layering. I also have smaller butterfly clamps from Staples to use on thin tables.

****Ziploc bags in all sizes to hold pieces or whole projects. (I get these really big ones from work sometimes and they're really great)

****Skirt hangers to hang giant ziploc bags full of stuff
Giant ziploc bag hung from
skirt hanger

****Hangers to hang binding to keep it from wrinkling until I need it

****Masking tape. I have it in every width and use it for quilting parallel lines. Just stick it down and sew along the edge and you're all set.

Masking tape in 3 sizes
Contact paper stars placed
then quilted around
****Contact paper. I use it to cut out shapes to quilt around. Just stick it down and sew around. No marking necessary!  The stick-um lasts for a lot of uses.

Peanut jar full of ribbon, Cool
Whip garbage bowl, magazine
rack for rulers
****My Sizzix die cut machine that I use for scrapbooking. I have a great star die and use it with the Contact paper to make stars. I can stick them around the quilt and get the placement just right and then just quilt around them.

****Cool Whip containers to hold pieces for the current project (sure beats piles all over the counter!). They are also my "garbage bowls".

****A magazine holder holds my rulers

****An old peanut jar holds ribbon scraps

Lots of plastic shoe boxes hold
squares,strips, triangles, projects

****A desk caddy holds scissors, pencils, markers.

****Plastic shoe boxes hold my strips, squares, triangles, and UFO projects.

So next time you're at the dollar store, hardware store, Staples, the grocery store, or in your kitchen look at things with a quilter's eye and see if you can use anything!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I've Embraced the Jelly Roll

      One of the big trends in quilt shops for a few years has been the jelly roll. I see them and walk by because the quilts I see made with them are really not my usual style. I'd see the selection of fabrics from a line of fabric and I'd like them but hadn't jumped in.
AC Moore Birthday jelly roll
      Well, last week I took the plunge. I had a $10 gift certificate from AC Moore for my birthday and instead of buying scrapbook stuff I found myself in their little fabric section. They had 5 or 6 sets of jelly rolls. One sort of called my name so I bought it with no idea what to do with it. So I Googled images of jelly roll quilts and scrolled through hundreds of images until one quilt jumped out at me because the fabrics were so similar to the ones I had. I confess I printed up the picture and went with it (please don't tell the creator!). This is one quilt my daughter likes because she likes things realistic and graphic, and this one looks like a stained glass window. I haven't done a border yet because I used all the fabric. Emma thinks it just needs a black border and she is probably right.She is the art major after all!
JoAnn JellyRoll
Not really a jelly roll but is made with
2 1/2" strips left over from another project
      Then the other day I was in JoAnn Fabrics looking for red,red-violet,purple fabric and ran into a bargain bin.There I found this sad, bedraggled jelly roll for $6. The fabrics were fun and wild and nothing I would ordinarily buy so I went for it. Then I went to the pattern books and found a couple jelly roll books and browsed for ideas. The one I came up with is sort of done like a huge log cabin and I have been doing a round of this in between the steps of the 4-patch blocks. It is fun and bright and won't even need a border when it is done.

 This last picture is a quilt I just finished quilting. It is made from 2 1/2" strips left over from another project and the border is the end of the triangles and border fabric. (Recognize it, Cindy?) I kind of like the way I separated the strips randomly with pieces of the pinks.

I apologize for the quality of these pictures. Took them with my camera and it is too much trouble to do them over with the camera right now. Next time..... Oh, just remembered the incandescent setting on the camera and was able to retake the blue one. The other are too much trouble.

Red to Purple- a different color triad

     A few years ago I did a quilt using just the colors from green to purple on the color wheel. That included green, turquoise, blue, blue-violet, and purples. I went through my entire stash and cut strips off each piece of fabric in these colors. For this project I cut 2", and 3 1/2" strips. I used this basic block and did 4 quilts in different layouts. One of them was even a maze with a mouse hunting for cheese at the end. After I cut a couple ziploc bags full of strips I was surprised to see that the level of fabrics in the totes didn't even go down! After a couple years using these pieces they finally were used up.
       Now I have decided to do this challenge again with red, red-violet, purples with light pinks and lavenders. I found a pattern that I love so went through the totes again and pulled out every piece. For this project I cut 1 1/2", 2", and 3 1/2" strips. I had piles of fabric all over the room for about a week!
       This quilt will take me forever to finish--no kidding. The 1 1/2" strips are cut into squares and made into 4-patches. I need hundreds of these 4-patches. Then they go with the 2" squares to make a double 4-patch, and then these blocks make a triple 4-patch. I love this kind of challenge with lots of scraps because it is fun to combine all the different fabrics. I always make myself a rule with scrappy quilts and this time the rule is the same as usual--don't repeat a fabric in a block and use each color in each block. To be honest, the triple 4-patch blocks by themselves aren't too pretty, but put them all together and it is beautiful. I can't wait to do this pattern.
I found a border fabric but can't decide
on the inner border. I kind of like the stripe. 
       I do have a problem though. I didn't think about a border fabric to tie it all together. I have perfect fabrics in the stash but they are years old, and about the size of a fat quarter. WHY didn't I think of this in Spokane while I was visiting 8 shops?!
       If anyone knows of a great fabric, please post a picture or send a link. I did find one fabric and and am using it right now but I would like another, since I will probably end up with several quilts from this pile.

Well, it is less than a month since I started this project (and this blog page) and the top is finished! It is bed size and I thought I would never finish squaring up those 4 patches but I did it! Now it needs a border. During the cutting process I found this border fabric in the local fabric store and it is scattered throughout the quilt  and I like it. I didn't find a single other fabric in this color combination in the 4 stores I visited!  Now I can't decide on the inner border. I think I like the stripe but there is not really any white in the quilt. Actually considering dying it a pale pink. What do you think? It just seems fun and less boring than a red or burgundy. So for the moment it is hanging on the wall waiting for a final decision.
    I actually didn't have all that much fabric left over. Probably enough for a small quilt but I want to find another border fabric to finish that one. You know what that means--FIELD TRIP!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Shop-Hopping is FUN--especially with friends!

We started out here. This is the only
shop I had ever visited, but not in this
    This post is dedicated to my longtime friend Susie Long in Spokane, Washington. A couple weeks ago while I was on vacation she took a personal day from work to take me shop-hopping all over Spokane. We visited 7 different shops and bought something in each one! I haven't done this in years and it was a lot of fun. Each shop was very different and had its own personality. They had different lines of fabrics and each one had a different way of bagging up your purchases, which was fun. The one way they were alike, however, was that each one welcomed us with a big smile and friendly conversation! We took pictures at each one so please indulge me. We even had to hide out in one while a massive storm came through. We learned later on the news of the huge amount of damage the storm caused in some areas.
This is my vacation stash. Lots of novelty
prints with words and lots of reds.
      I learned a little something about the latest trends in fabric. Big right now are big, bold, geometric prints, which I have a hard time with because they really have to be used in BIG pieces. Another trend
continues to be batiks, which I am not really into. The big surprise to me was the trend of OWLS. Really? I thought we let them go back in the 70's.Another big trend is flannels, which I have also not gotten into.
      I was looking for any fabrics with words on them. That was fun because Susie had never even noticed these types of fabrics and was just as excited as I was to find one. I was also looking for REDS. True red, like the color of a red crayon. Believe me they are very rare! I also found a couple retro novelty prints that I couldn't resist. They were in a shop that had that retro vibe and we loved it. I also was looking for red-violets and purples for my next project which is scrappy in the color range from red to purple. (More about this in my next post.) Now that I have started this project I realize I missed a HUGE opportunity. I need a border fabric in just those colors to tie it all together and I didn't think to look for one. Now I am frustrated! If anyone sees something with red, red-violet, purples and not much of any other color please let me know. Another fabric I found was one I was looking for several years ago to finish a quilt. I didn't buy it because I ended up using something else and to this day it bugs me. (The quilt was made with reproduction fabrics from Olde Sturbridge Village, which I had bought there and had given up my online search for them.)
      My favorite day of my vacation was definitely Shop Hop day. If anyone is in my area and wants to shop hop in southeast Massachusetts, let me know. We can do it!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Bits and Pieces

      Well, I finished the crazy quilt blocks finally. It is a fun project for the first week or so and then you just want to see the end of the last block. When I finished, I just had to count (I had no idea how many there were as I went along) and I made 75. That will make 3- 25 block quilts for charity or any new baby girls that may join my family.
      Speaking of new babies, we had 2 babies born less than 2 weeks apart in May--my great nephew Jackson, and great niece Natalie. I am in the process of finishing their quilts and thought of 3 things to share as I am putting on bindings.
      #!. Making the binding
When I make a crazy or scrappy quilt I like a pieced binding with lots of fabrics. The important thing about this is that the pieces MUST be sewn together diagonally on the bias. After making the strip, press all the seams open and fold the fabric in half with the seams inside. This spreads the extra fabric bulk over a couple inches and is really not noticeable. 
If making a one-color binding, you still piece diagonally for the same reason.
(Edited note: I cut my binding strips 2 1/2 inches wide)
       #2 Sewing down the binding. USE THE WALKING FOOT. This is something I wish someone had told me when I started quilting. I have several quilts with really bad ripply borders because I did not do this. It was really pointed out to me at a major quilt show when I saw a beautiful Baltimore Album Quilt with the worst border/binding I ever saw. If you do not use the walking foot, the border fabric slides and ripples and really looks BAD. 
        #3 BE THANKFUL FOR THE PEOPLE WHO TAUGHT AND MENTORED YOU!  Every time I sew by hand I say a thank you to the first lady who taught me quilting. I don't remember her name, the shop is no longer there, but she was a slave driver who taught hand piecing and quilting the right way. She taught how to choose the right needle for you, and how to use a thimble. I can not hand sew without a thimble to this day and really wish I had known this back in the Sandie's Specialties days! I had permanent callouses and pain in my fingers back then.  So thank you, quilting teacher in Waltham!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pressing Matters-I remember what I forgot the first time I posted this!

Crazy blocks in pastels
I have been working on these blocks for well over a week, at least an hour a day and at this point I have finished a whole 12 blocks. Many of them are getting close to finished and to be honest, as it gets warmer it gets harder to sit under the hot lights sewing and pressing. So I am getting ready to be finished!!
Basically this project is just cut, sew, press, repeat. Last week a non-quilter friend came over and offered to help so I had her press. I didn't realize how much there is involved in pressing because after all this time I just do it without thinking so I thought I would share the important points in case anyone needs to teach someone how to be a "sous-presser:"
1. Press seams to one side. For people who come to quilting from garment making, this is hard to get used to because with garments we press seams open. Place the fabric that will flip up on the top and press toward the seam.
2. Press in the direction the fabric wants to go. In this project I am sewing one piece of fabric onto a piece that might have 3 or 4 seams on it. The fabric wants to go to the new piece so that the seamed areas are flat.
3. A general rule is to press to the dark piece when sewing two pieces together. The seam is less likely to be seen through the fabric. When I am chain piecing half-square triangles together I always put all the lights on the bottom and the darks on the top so when I chain press they are all the same and I can do one after the other. (This rule really doesn't apply to this project.)
4. Always set the seam before flipping the fabric and pressing the seam down. This really makes a difference. Any ripples will disappear at this point and you help avoid any stretching. You get a nice clean press if you do this.
5. Magic Sizing is your best friend. I really wish I had learned this earlier in my quilting. When you are using lots of different fabrics with different weights and textures the sizing really helps to unify the fabrics. It also really makes a difference with any fabrics that are cut on a bias. It keeps them from stretching and keeps them staying smooth and perfect. It is very important with this project because the fabrics are cut on every possible angle of the fabrics and there would be a lot of stretched, ripply seams without it. It is also great at keeping the pressed seams staying where you pressed them. Nothing is more annoying than to have a seam flip the wrong way when sewing 2 blocks together, and the sizing sort of "glues" them down.
6. Use a dry iron. Steam will cause fabric to stretch. Use the steam to press fabrics before they are sewn together. (it is also safer for your fingers--no surprise steam burns as you manipulate the fabric on the ironing board!)
Hopefully this will be helpful. I feel like I left out something important and if I did, please let me know.
Oh, if anyone wants a little tutorial on making crazy quilt blocks by machine, let me know.

OOPS- I remember what I forgot the first time. This should be #1! Anyway, when quilting using the iron is called PRESSING. That is because you PRESS  the iron down on the fabric, do not move back and forth like when ironing. Moving the iron a lot can stretch the fabric or make the block misshapen. Duh.. Sandie!

Monday, June 2, 2014

"Color, Pattern, Texture, Shine"

"Color, Pattern, Texture, Shine"
     Anyone who watches "What Not to Wear" regularly knows the "rules" Stacy and Clinton go by in putting together an outfit. I am a huge fan, and watch the reruns while eating lunch every day that I am home. (I am also a bit happy they are no longer on because I would definitely be a candidate for nomination!)
     Anyway, what does this have to do with quilting, you may ask? I am working on one of my favorite techniques, which is crazy quilting on machine.        
Crazy Quilt for Kids
I love to do this because it is fun to mix and match so many fabrics, and it just feels good to use up scraps!
Right now I am making blocks using pastels for girls' quilts. I have certain rules for making each block and recently realized that these rules are pretty much the same as Stacy and Clinton's rules and now I can't get the mantra out of my head as I work on the blocks! So let me break it down-------
1. Color
My Great Grandma's quilt
It is important that each individual block blends in with the others,. You don't want a "galloping horse" anywhere. So I have a rule that each block must contain at least one piece of each of the main colors. It is especially important if using yellow or orange that a bit is in each block  In the pastels I am making now, I am  trying to include yellow, pink, white, lavender, blue and turquoise in each piece.
This one seems a little more difficult for quilting. We tend to use only 100% cotton fabrics and they are all the same texture--smooth and flat. One day I was snuggled under Great Grandma's quilt and I found myself doing what I did as a kid--rubbing the pieces of flannel that are scattered in there. I realized that the flannel has lasted over 50 years and as a kid I used to rub those pieces so why not use the flannel? I have lots of scraps of cute flannels that were used to make pajamas so now I put them in also so some other kid might find them and rub them too. My Grandma quilt also has corduroy but my corduroy is pretty thick and too heavy to use, but a soft corduroy would be good too. 
3. Pattern
After color, pattern is probably the next important thing quilters look at when choosing fabrics. In the crazy quilt blocks my basic rule is to have a variety of patterns in each block. I have solids, plaids, stripes, dots, florals, and the very important novelty prints to add fun,. They need to be balanced in each block so all the blocks will blend. I also have an obsession with fabrics with words on them that I can sneak in there and I look for them in every shop I visit. 
4. Shine
I am not really a "shiny" person but I do appreciate a bit of "special" in each quilt. I throw in fabrics with some gold or silver if I have them. Also I have a few pieces of chintz which adds a shine. 
I am throwing this one in because it applies to clothes and crazy quilt blocks too. When I am making these blocks I look at the shapes of pieces-squares,triangles, rectangles, trapezoids, and try to blend them in each block.

If anyone is interested in learning how to make these machine made crazy quilt blocks, let me know and I will do a tutorial.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

When you ASSUME you make a @#$* of You and Me

      Today was my last day off before Emma comes home from college next week and I have to clean up the "Command Center" in her room. I want to get as many quilts pinned as I can and really want to finish the big quilt I have been quilting before I have to take down the big table.  These are both pretty boring projects at this point so I quilted a while and then I pressed the tops and backs of 2 more quilts. One of them, the bug quilt, was the perfect size for a piece of butterfly fabric for the back so that was a quickie project
.   The other one I chose to do is a Pinwheel Star because I already had a back pieced together and put aside for it. Most of my quilts, especially the charity ones, have pieced backs, which are often as interesting as the front.
       I stretched out the back, cut the batting to fit and layed out the top, and here is where the ASSUME comes in. The top and the back were not even close to the same size! What the heck was I thinking? I had made that back, folded them up together, and put them into the UFO tote months or even years ago. I ASSUMED they were the same size. I had to unclamp the back, add 8" to the side and 20" to the bottom (see, not even close!). Then of course the batting didn't fit any more so I needed another piece. Good thing I had just bought a king size batt for these projects so there was enough left for this one without having to piece it together. I will be able to use the other piece for one of the other quilts in the pile. Anyway, the day has slipped away and all I accomplished was quilting another border on the big quilt and layering the bug quilt. (Oh and I made cupcakes to distract myself from the boring-ness and I now have a "Cupcake Stash" in my freezer.) This picture is the way I am leaving it for the night. Tomorrow is another day!
Pinwheel Star ready to pin, Floral border in progress, pinned quilts hanging
What a mess!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sometimes with quilting you can't get from A to B without a few detours along the way

I liked this one because we are into Sherlock at my house!
      Sometimes when I am quilting I think of those old Family Circus comic strips where it takes little Billy forever to get from A to B.   That has been me in the quilting department the last 2 weeks. After Emma went back to school I set up the big table in her room which I have dubbed "The Command Center" (her term not mine). I have several quilts which need quilting so I started layering with the big one. The table is only 3'x6' so the quilt has to be moved several times. After 3 days of shifting, pinning, back aching I got to the last section and guess what--the top had shifted so the backing was 1" too small. So I unpinned most of it, shifted, and repinned for 2 days and it was ready. Side note: when I pin a quilt I don't shut the pins until the whole thing is done. This way if something like this happens it is not so bad and also I can shut pins while sitting comfortably in a chair or in the car while waiting in a carpool line (that't what I did when I was a nanny). I also layered the second quilt and you guessed it right again--it shifted! I was so careful too!
      So then it was time to start stippling but I discovered I didn't have the right thread to match the backing or enough variegated thread for the top of the second quilt so a trip to JoAnn was in order for thread. Ok, now it is time to sew. After a couple hours I decided I should check the back and guess what--you got it--a pucker. This is because I don't have good clamps that fit my table so I can stretch the backing well. So I decided this problem had to be solved before layering quilt #3 so a field trip was in order to Home Depot. Well, they didn't have the kind of clamps I need in the size I need so I came home defeated and ordered clamps from Amazon (3" spring clamps). So I am ready for quilt #3.
      Now it is time to tear out the puckered area and fix it and guess what--my seam ripper point is broken off and I can't find the other seam ripper so now I have to make another trip to the fabric store. This time I went to Emma's Quilt Cupboard down the street and paid full price and bought 2 seam rippers in case I lose or break one again. So I get the pucker fixed and get back to stippling and CRUNCH. The presser foot came off, broke the needle and guess what--I am out of the needles I like to use. I already know neither store carries the needles I like (Jeans size 80) so back to Amazon to order needles. I put in a different needle which is working ok and I am still waiting for the needles to arrive.
      Meantime I have been stippling on both quilts and making good progress and since the clamps have now arrived I am ready to layer the next ones! GOOD GRIEF!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Thanks for all the help, quilters--it's done!

     I really want to thank everyone for your input into the Emma Block dilemma. I was really frustrated and took everyone's comments into account before I sewed those blocks together. Thanks Nancy and Kim for pointing out that not all teenagers like wallhangings. I pondered that one a while and decided to make the thing so it could be either a pillow or a wallhanging, whichever she decides.She decided on a pillow, which will always come in handy in the dorm!
      As you can see I went with the blue pinwheel. It had a lot of votes and the more I thought about it the more it made sense. You see, she made this in a class that she hated. The professor with the French accent was making her nuts at the beginning of the semester telling her she needed more "jazz" and movement. She is a person who likes things to be neat, realistic, and in order and the concept of "jazz" just didn't make any sense to her! I tried to tell her to tilt things or make something look like it was falling off the page and she just got mad at me and told me she doesn't think like me. So I decided the pinwheel had "jazz".
     I hope you can zoom in and
see the quilting design I did on this. This design is based on another of her dreaded assignments so I thought I would incorporate it too. I took the design and repeated the elements on paper until I had a complete design. Then I used a primary color variegated thread to sew right on the paper. It is such an easy technique (until you have to cut all the threads and tear all the paper).  I used the multi color thread because I figured just one color would disappear into the matching fabric so this way different elements pop. Jazz again!
      In addition to making this for her birthday I also made the craziest thing for her. When she was young she was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz books. She loved the Patchwork Girl of Oz and wanted to learn to sew to make a doll. She sewed old leftover blocks and scraps together (not very well, I must say!) to make a big piece of fabric to make into a doll. It has been haunting me every time I get into the UFO box and I decided to make her a doll. I used to make rag dolls back in the day but my patterns are buried in the bottom of the closet to I made up the pattern as I went along. I lost sleep for 3 nights figuring out how to make the wacky hair but I got it done and here it is.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Help me, quilters!!!

Emma's block
      Hi all you quilter friends out there. I need feedback and I need it ASAP. My daughter designed this "block" for a design class in college. She hated the class and for inspiration I told her if she made something good I would make it for her as a wallhanging. Well this A+ design is it so I made 4 blocks and THEN realized that they were weird to put together. I put them up on the design wall every way I could think of and can't decide what would look best. Stripey? Pinwheel? Red on top? Blue on top? Sashing? Square? Oblong? Ahhhhhhhh! I need to decide and I have 10 days to finish before she comes home for break. HELP!
Blue pinwheel

Red pinwheel
Blue down the middle

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Do we really make quilts for others or are they actually just for us?

      Just wondering-when we give quilts to people do they appreciate them? We spend a lot of money  and HOURS working on quilts--all the planning, cutting, sewing. And then we give most of them away. Because I love them, I assume the recipient does also, but now I am not so sure.
      A couple years ago I gave each family member a quilt to donate to charity. Of the 15 quilts I am only sure that 2 were actually donated, 1 person made a donation in my name, and who knows about the rest. I choose to believe the people kept them because they loved them.
     Two days before Thanksgiving a family had a house fire and lost everything. The mom has cancer, her daughter and grandbabies were here, her college age son lost his computer and it really touched me. I had 2 quilts finished for charity but there were 3 kids so I spent the next 2 nights finishing another quilt. I gathered up a couple books and toys for the kids, baked a batch of cookies and took the quilts to them. No feedback but I choose to believe they appreciated them.
     Believe it or not one of my first quilts which I made back in the 70's before I really knew much ended up wrapping up my brother's dead dog and was buried with her. I'm OK with that. It needed to be put to rest, (We are supposed to burn worn out flags so why not bury worn out quilts, right?)
The one that got away
      I made quilts for each of my nieces and nephews when they graduated from high school and when they got married and had kids. I also made the t-shirt quilts for the Rokoff kids. I know for a fact the t-shirt quilts were appreciated and enjoyed (the boys used them as a pick up line in college. "Wanna come up and see my quilt?) I assumed the kids loved them because they came from me, but then I had a wake up call.
       I got an e.mail from a stranger who saw one of my quilts on the Goodwill auction site. It was listed with my name and she didn't want to buy it if it was stolen or not supposed to be sold. At first I didn't recognize the quilt but I really liked it. So I looked back at pictures and discovered it was the one I had given my nephew for his graduation. I choose to believe his wife didn't like it and donated it to Goodwill. But to be honest, my feelings are still hurt!
      I also make wedding quilts with pictures from the wedding. My (other) nephew really liked his but doesn't know what to do with it now that he is divorced! I never thought of that.
       So here is the conclusion I have come up with. I enjoyed making the quilts, I enjoyed giving the quilts, and I CHOOSE TO BELIEVE the recipient enjoyed getting them.